In music the low notes turn high notes into show notes. In food the contrast of spice, sweet, savory, soft, and crunchy turn ordinary into the sublime. It is contrast in almost everything that brings that sensory experience to life. It energizes the music and brings excitement to the culinary dish leaving your taste buds begging for more.
Listening to Dizzy Gillespie with Charlie Parker turning “A Night in Tunisia” into a harmonious interlude that weaves the rough/sultry staccato beats of Dizzy’s trumpet with the perfectly timed alto sax riffs of Charlie Parker. These two will take you to another dimension. A dimension of light and sound that plays upon your intellect and dances across several mood swings into the totality of an alternative universe that is genius.
Down Beat Magazine gave Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker the distinguished awards of Best Trumpet player and Best Alto Sax player in 1951. The two of them performed “Hot House” when accepting their awards. They were encouraged to speak but instead Charlie Parker said, ” Music
speaks louder than words.” Then they went on to play (standing next to each other) synchronized, astonishing, note for note, a perfectly timed exhibition of the same notes from two different horned instruments morphing into trading fours. Trading fours is an extended acronym known by musicians when one player plays for four counted measures and then the other seamlessly takes the mantle for another four. This contrast of elements seems to pit one instrument against another but becomes as one when the goal is perfect harmony.
In the culinary world grilled F-1 Steaks (50% Wagyu and 50% Black Angus) expand the horizon of flavorful beef. This wonderful product accompanied with sauteed spinach over a nest of creamy parmesan mash potatoes delivers the flavor profiles of three different elements moving our taste buds from contrast into conformity. This perfect harmony blends a host of components that include the unami flavor, almost sweetness from the Wagyu beef to the bitter spinach and then the dry hard salty parmesan mash potatoes. Contrast to conformity is the substantive dialogue that makes the epicurean journey a path only taken by those that are open to the road less traveled.
A blank parchment is lifeless until a pen generates a melody or a chef creates a recipe. The contrast of thought that leads to a miracle is the simple first measure of a song or the vision of a dish that inspires the gastronomic expression that becomes a signature dish.
The contrast of “Blue Rondo a la Turk” written and composed by Dave Brubeck with its 9/8 time with one side 4/4 time is a perfect example of chaos and contrast. However, the results live in a harmonious tune that has become a trenchant expression reveling in this case in the conformity of the driving piano backed by the pounding of drums and the blaring sax, supposedly contrasting sounds.
Within that road of contrast we see music and food bringing different groups to the proverbial table. A table that includes all people with diverse backgrounds enjoying the skill set performed by artists that paint a musical or culinary picture on a blank canvas. This cacophony of sound becomes a rich musical dialogue that expands the horizons of possibility. Those willing to open and discover the richness of diversity through contrast often results in the conformity of appreciation.
This conformity and appreciation is the substance of peace that applauds diverse expression. Food and music should be the dialogue that connects us. Perhaps we can’t agree on the flavors or the sound but we can agree that there are dishes that we have eaten that we wish would never end. There are also songs that take us to a place and a time that infuses us with a soulful feeling we could not live without.
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